Alex Cox’s widow testifies against Lori Vallow Daybell

Posted at 12:58 PM, April 14, 2023

By: Kelsie Rose

BOISE, Idaho (KIVI) — Testimony continued Friday in the trial of Lori Vallow Daybell with testimony from Detective Nathan Duncan and Alex Cox’s widow, Zulema Pastenes.

Detective Duncan with Arizona’s Chandler Police Department responded to the death of Lori’s fourth husband, Charles Vallow.

courtroom sketch shows Detective Nathan Duncan

This courtroom sketch shows Detective Nathan Duncan testifying Thursday, April 13, 2023 in the trial of Lori Vallow Daybell. (Lisa Cheney)

Duncan testified about cell phone calls and e-mails between Chad and Lori, Charles and Lori, Lori and Alex Cox (Lori’s brother), Charles and Tammy Daybell, all confirming information that was uncovered by police during their investigation of the shooting of Charles Vallow.

READ MORE: ID v. Lori Vallow Daybell: Doomsday Cult Mom Trial

Charles sent e-mails to Tammy Daybell telling her of the affair happening between Chad and Lori. There is no evidence to confirm whether or not Tammy actually read them.

Charles also sent an email to Chad. He let Chad know that he was aware of the connection between Chad and Lori.

In a text on June 20, 2019 from Charles to Lori, Charles accuses her of infidelity and is stunned that she still attends Temple. He also demands an apology from Lori for accusing Charles of infidelity. The following day, Charles sent another message to Lori saying he was going to Idaho to see Tammy Daybell. Lori responded that “She won’t listen to you. She is my friend.”

On July 11, 2019, Charles sent a text to Lori’s brother Adam Cox, indicating he believed Lori was up to something. Charles was shot and killed a few hours later.

The state introduced evidence from Lori’s iCloud detailing messages found.

In March 2019, Lori sent messages to her brother Alex that talked about getting rid of “Ned,” the evil spirit they say had taken over Charles’ body. The evil spirit was also referred to as “Garret.”

More e-mails were introduced outlining the timeline when Lori was first alerted of the death of Tammy Daybell. Melanie Gibb sent Lori a message where Lori reacted suprised to hear of the death, though investigators have proof that she was already aware of Tammy Daybell’s passing.

Another message found between Lori and Alex in July stated that the plot thickens, urging Alex to stay close to her.

ourtroom sketch depicts Lori Vallow Daybell

This courtroom sketch depicts Lori Vallow Daybell in court on Thursday, April 13, 2023. (Lisa C. Cheney)

Messages were also uncovered with communication between Chad and Lori when Lori found out she was not the beneficiary of Charles’s $1 million life insurance policy. Chad indicated that he thought she have been informed of the change.

Lori speculated that it was probably Brandon Boudreaux or Kay Woodcock that became the beneficiary.

In more correspondence found in the iCloud, the investigation found conversations between Lori and Zulema Pastenes, a friend and future wife of Alex Cox. In early June, they discussed “castings” that needed to be performed on the evil spirits inhabiting Charles. There was also a message from Chad thanking Pastenes for her help.

Detective Duncan confirmed that he shared all of his findings with other law enforcement. The state had no further questions for Duncan.

Defense had no questions for cross-examination and Duncan was excused.

The state then called Zulema Pastenes to the stand. Pastenes was married to Alex Cox for only two weeks before he died. She had been close friends with Lori and Melanie Gibb after meeting Gibb at church and attending a meeting where Lori was the featured speaker.

Pastenes testified that she believed that Lori was in very high spiritual standing due to the visions Lori spoke about having. Lori had claimed that she was a witness of Jesus Christ and Pastenes noted this was the highest spiritual experience a person could have.

Pastenes traveled with Lori to a religious conference in Utah, which is believed to be where Chad and Lori first met.

Pastenes testified that in the car ride back to Arizona, Lori told them (Gibb was with them) that Chad told her that Chad and Lori had been married to each other in a past life.

Three photos taken at religious conferences, confirmed by Pastenes, were admitted into evidence. Two from the conference in St. George, UT, and one taken in Boise.

Pastenes testified she saw Lori again at a conference in Mesa, though she hadn’t spoken with Lori for a while. Pastenes was invited to join Lori and Chad at Lori’s home to receive a blessing.

Pastenes went on to testify that in future meetings and conversations with Chad, he told her that she was “Light”, and told her about her many past lives, one of them being a daughter of Lori’s.

Testimony then pivoted to a conversation between Pastenes and Lori when Lori said that she and Charles were having financial difficulties, but that the $60,000 she received from life insurance due to the death of her third husband, Joseph Ryan, would help.

Lori continued to tell Pastenes about Charles having a dark spirit and wanted to meet with a group of women in Pastenes’ home to teach them something.

Lori also had allegedly told Pastenes that Lori and Charles had separated and Charles had taken things from her. Pastenes testified that she believed what Lori was saying because of Lori’s very convincing personality.

At the meeting in Pastenes’ home, Lori used a whiteboard to teach more about the Light and Dark ratings, then told the women they needed to perform a casting on Charles.

The state introduced photos of the casting meeting into evidence.

Pastenes testifies that this was her first casting, and she was involved in a second one weeks later to get rid of a demon named “Ned” that had entered Charles’ body.

Melanie Gibb had been at both castings, and Alex Cox had joined in the second one.

Although Lori and the others believed these castings were working, they also allegedly believed that more powerful demons were taking over Charles’ body. Cox believed that if people had demons they were dangerous.

Pastenes testified that Lori claimed to have a spiritual connection to the number 711 and that it had appeared often in Lori’s lives. Pastenes said she remembers the day Charles died because it was on 7/11, and Lori had told her it was orchestrated by God.

Lori had explained that a fight broke out and Alex protected Lori by shooting Charles in self-defense. Lori also told Pastenes that certain things had to happen before the Second Coming and she needed to cleanse the Earth of evil spirits. Charles’ death was one of those things.

Pastenes testified that Lori told her she was moving to Rexburg because Chad had told Lori this was going to be a safe place when other countries came to invade the US. Chad had told Lori that soldiers and warriors would defend Rexburg.

Pastenes’ testimony continued after lunch when she said that Chad gave her a blessing saying that the Savior was standing right next to him. He told her that all of her sins were forgiven and that it was time for her to move to Rexburg and that she would be getting married to someone. Lori and Alex Cox were present for the blessing.

Pastenes testified that Cox had received a similar blessing that day from Chad.

Pastenes and Cox began a short courtship and were engaged in Rexburg. Chad and Lori had encouraged them to date and get married, expressing a belief that together they were stronger than being separate.

Pastenes testified that Chad and Lori were not in Rexburg at the time of their engagement, Nov. 7, 2019, and she and Cox received pictures of Chad and Lori in Hawaii. Neither had Pastenes seen JJ nor Tylee during her visit in Rexburg.

Pastenes also testified that Cox was getting mad about the lack of communication he had been experiencing recently from Chad and Lori.

When questioing pivoted to the attempted shooting of Tammy Daybell and Tammy’s death, Pastenes testified that Lori had recently told her that Tammy was possessed and needed a demon cast out of her and that on the evening of the attempted shooting, Lori was in Arizona with Pastenes and Gibb performing a casting on Tammy.

Sketch of Zulema Pastenes testifying

Zulema Pastenes testifies in the trial of Lori Vallow Daybell. (Sketch by Lisa Cheney)

That same evening, Lori took a phone call and became very angry with whoever was on the phone, saying to Pastenes after hanging up that “Idiot, can’t do anything right by himself.” Tammy Daybell died in her sleep less than two weeks later.

Pastenes testified that Chad and Lori had been married in Hawaii shortly after the funeral, and had a layover during their flight back to Idaho in Arizona. Pastenes met up with them to have dinner and inquired about the whereabouts of JJ. Lori told Pastenes JJ was with Kay (Woodcock, JJ’s grandmother).

On Dec. 1, 2019, Pastenes and Cox were married in Las Vegas. It was around this time, Pastenes testified, that Melanie Gibb contacted her very upset and emotional, stating that she (Gibb) had been deceived by Chad and Lori and they were asking Gibb to lie for them. Gibb believed they were doing something wrong.

Feeling confused and unsettled, Pastenes went to Cox asking why Kay was looking for JJ if JJ was with her. Alex responded only with “I know” though never answered her. Pastenes was not aware that the police were looking for JJ and Tylee until after Cox died.

Pastenes testified that on Dec. 11, Cox was on the phone with Chad and Lori and learned that the body of Tammy Daybell was being exhumed. Pastenes didn’t understand why since Tammy had died of natural causes. She then asked Cox if he had anything to do with Tammy’s death. Again, he did not answer her.

Eventually, Cox responded “I think I’m being their fall guy.” This confused Pastenes, and she was frustrated that Cox was not saying much. Cox finally told her “Either I am a man of God or I am not.”

Alex Cox passed away the next day, on Dec. 12, 2019.

The prosecution admitted pages from Pastenes journal into evidence. They contained diagrams of the different worlds and the scales of Light and Dark, as taught to her by Lori and Chad.

They had taught Pastenes that every time a demon is cast out of a body, there is a two-minute window that can allow another one to come in. To prevent this, you need to use things like water and fire to destroy the body. Pastenes said that one way to prevent another evil spirit from entering is by binding the body. Another way is using fire.

Another document shows the ratings for all of Lori’s family members, as Chad had requested from Lori and Chad had shown Pastenes in August 2019. It showed that Tylee, Charles Vallow and Brandon Boudreaux had Dark ratings (Tylee’s being the darkest), while Lori’s niece, Melani Boudreaux’s, was Light.

Continued testimony from Pastenes described how Chad had told different people the “gifts” that they had. He had said Cox was to be Lori’s protector. Pastenes asked Cox how it felt when he shot and killed Charles, Cox responded that Charles was a zombie.

Questioning by the state concluded with Pastenes confirming that Cox took his role to protect Lori very seriously.

During cross-examination, Vallow Daybell’s defense attorneys opened by stating their belief that Pastenes’ testimony in the afternoon was very different than the testimony in the morning, and inquired if she had spoken with anyone about the case. Pastenes says she did not, and said that her nerves were different in the morning versus the afternoon.

The defense started a line of questioning about visions and Pastenes’ spirituality. Pastenes said that she and Lori mostly spoke about spiritual things, and confirmed that she had her own amazing spiritual experience at the temple. Defense read a text message from Pastenes to Chad telling him about her experiencing visions after she had received his blessing.

Pastenes was asked for clarification about the castings, and testified that nobody was ever physically harmed, and the castings were meant to bind the spirit of the person.

The defense asked if her views on the casting and Light work have changed. Pastenes responded that two children have died, and a mother of five has died. She considers that evil and confirms her views have changed. She believes the deaths were directly tied to Chad and Lori’s work.

The defense asked when Pastenes was ordained in the Church of the Firstborn. She couldn’t remember exactly when it happened, and testified that Chad made her feel very special and his blessings were very personal.

Pastenes testifies that she contacted Chad often asking questions about spiritual topics.

Pastenes was also asked to clarify that Chad had talked to her about all of her past lives, not just one, in a lunch meeting with Lori.

The defense asked for explanations about pages in her journals, why she wrote or drew things, specifically about circles signifying multiple lives and ones showing where spirits go to stay for two minutes after the body dies.

Pastenes testified that she had been taught there were two minutes to burn around a body to prevent another demon from going into that body. Being further pressed about how someone would burn or burn around a body, Pastenes says it does not mean burning the physical body, it was about verbally and spiritually casting demons from the body.

Pastenes went on to further clarify the levels on the priesthood chart that were in her journal. After describing several levels, she says the goal was to cast out evil spirits using prayer and Biblical scriptures.

The defense has more they want to explore in cross-examination, but the judge enforced a 3:30pm adjournment to dismiss court.

There is no court on Monday, and cross-examination of Zulema Pastenes will resume on Tuesday.

This story was originally published April 14 by KIVI in Boise, an E.W. Scripps Company.